This is not okay:
(Image credit: Art of LomoNavojo)
Why am I posting this on my work blog? Because it’s an important issue that needs to be discussed.
When is it okay to strip your friend naked in front of strangers or new acquaintances without their consent? Pretty much everyone would agree: never. So why do so many people do it?
I know what you’re thinking.
“What? This is a thing now? I didn’t hear about this.”
I personally know several people who have had this happen to them and continue to have it happen to them at work, at school, out shopping, at parties, everywhere. It happens to trans people. It should go without saying that what’s in a person’s pants is no one else’s business but it apparently needs to be said. This is a sad state of affairs.
What’s even sadder is that many people don’t even realize what they’ve done and don’t understand why their friend is so upset when it happens. Kindly allow me to remove the mystery.
When people are out in public, clothed, and going about their daily business, it’s typically impossible to tell what is or isn’t in their undergarments. (Unless you get an up-kilt shot or someone’s wearing very tight yoga pants.) It’s the same for trans people. No one knows unless you open your mouth and tell them.
Most people don’t mean any harm to their friends when they disclose their trans friend’s status in the course of conversation. In fact, it can sometimes even be an attempt at acting in solidarity. An unsuccessful attempt but an attempt nonetheless. Often times, people assume that because their trans friend has told them about their gender dysphoria, it means they’re out to everyone and don’t mind it being discussed in public, free for anyone who happens to be passing by to overhear. This is not necessarily true. In fact, in our crazy world, there are sadly many folks who think that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual people are unnatural and deserve to have harm come to them. Those are the kind of people you really don’t want getting wind of your friend’s trans status.
Folks, we need to protect our trans friends. If you are a true friend, a real ally, respecting their privacy is paramount. Here is an easy way to remember and stop yourself before you out your friend:
Ask yourself if this is the time and place and company in which it is acceptable to discuss other people’s genitals in great detail. Is it okay to take your friend’s pants off in front of these people? Would they be alright with that? If the answer is “no” leave the topic alone. No matter how good your intentions, no matter how helpful you think you’re being, your friends’ private parts are their business exclusively to do with, and talk about (or not), as they wish.
So please, don’t pants your friends. It’s not nice.